by Raventown 74
Xander's capacity for kindness was slightly lowered these days. Still when he saw the woman walking alone, with her thumb in the air, he felt an odd stirring in his heart. He pulled over, adjusting his eye patch to make sure nothing hideous was showing, and unlocked the passenger side door. The woman gave him the once over, smiling the entire time. She shrugged eloquently when he asked where she was going, and continued to smile at him. His resolve wavered, he got the feeling there was something not quite right about this lady. Still it was the middle of the day, a little too sunny for the vamp population. He pulled back on the road with the woman cheerfully melting into his sticky car seat (black leather maybe not being such a great choice for California road tripping), and turned the radio to his favorite station.
<...there's so much hatred in the world today, the other day a guy grabbed a woman's dog and lobbed the poor thing out the window…frankly I'm frightened by the escalating viol…>
He turned it off with a frustrated sigh.
"Poor dog." It was the first time the woman had spoken in the entire three minutes they had been in the car together.
"Yeah." Nothing else was said for a while. Not until the silence became a little too uncomfortable. The road looming ahead was empty, for some reason Xander felt disconcerted by this, wondering where all the other cars went.
"Where's all the traffic? This road runs through LA. What's up with that?"
"Maybe you're going the wrong way."
"No, I mean, I've driven this road before." They drove past a gas station. Xander came to a screeching halt and put the car in reverse.
"Gotta use the restroom," he said as he exited the vehicle. The woman got out and walked/skipped her way up the steps, stopping to admire the giant plastic cow head attached to the sign sporting the words, The Watering Hole in huge black letters.
When he came out of the restroom she had two ice-cream cones in her hands. She laughed at his expression of surprise and handed the confection over to him. He took it with a heartfelt thank you and devoured it quickly. They were back on the road in no time. The silence was companionable now. Xander turned the radio back on.
<…John Garden wrote the novel, On Becoming a Novelist…I mean isn't that novel…>
A woman's high pitched laughter could be heard in the background. He turned it off. The day had cooled a lot as the sun began to sink lower. He felt more comfortable, more relaxed now, the woman beside him not so much a stranger anymore.
"So, where should I let you off?"
"I don't know, just thought I should let you drive a while until I figure it out."
"You'll tell me when you figure it out?"
"Sure, Alexander I'll tell you."
"Hey, yeah I don’t remember telling you my name."
"Maybe…" He stared at the woman beside him in confusion, that creeping feeling of wrongness coming back.
"So what's your name?"
"Ooookay…pulling over the car now…taking a deep breath…" Her hand came down on his shoulder, he almost jumped out of his skin. He turned off the ignition, the car idled and was silent.
"You got ice-cream, Alexander. I don't usually do the ice-cream thing before I take people."
"And I should, what, feel special, because I got ice-cream before you kill me!"
Her eyes grew sad as she looked at him.
"You don't have to worry. It's alright where you're headed."
"I should call Buffy and tell her to come kick your butt."
"Buffy, I've met her before, hmmm actually twice. I'll meet her again someday…plucky girl."
"Yeah, she doesn't do death really well, neither do I, apparently."
"It won’t hurt."
"Quite a sells pitch."
"I do try."
Xander laughed at the absurdity of having Death try to soothe his nerves.
"So, I keep driving until the end, until you decide my times over."
"You have a heart attack…your car goes out of control…hits a tree."
"Not many trees around here, so I guess I'll keep driving."
"I'll be along for the ride, that is if you'll have me."
"Sure, Death in my car, wow. Maybe I should find a payphone or something. Call my friends."
He turned the radio on again, and pulled the car back onto the deserted road.
<…I'm just saying maybe there's more out there…>
The car lost control. Xander's body slumped over the steering wheel. The car hit the only tree around for miles, impacting with a enough force to split the tree in half. Death pulled herself from the wreckage. Xander stood beside her, a look of pure annoyance on his face.
"You said you'd tell me when you figured it out."
"Well, I have it figured out, happy?"
"Come on, you won’t get there if you keep standing still."
"Don’t I know."
<…maybe there's more to life, than just waiting around for death…>